Cost of living in Thailand_Thai currency

Cost of living in Thailand for short and long term stay

Everyone knows Thailand for its affordable cost of living and traveling. There are many of you who might be planning your travel or looking to get on the recent digital nomad and remote working trend

In this article, we will examine the cost of living in Thailand for both short and long term stay. We will be mostly using the cost of living in Bangkok as a reference, so if you are planning to visit or live in smaller cities, the cost will be relatively cheaper.

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Daily cost of living in Thailand

Food and beverage

There is a wide range of options for eating out in Thailand. You can select from street side vendors, local to fine dining restaurants. For this reason, a meal in Thailand can cost anywhere between THB 50 all the way to THB 500+ per meal per person.

Inexpensive meals from local vendors and restaurants that Thais typically consume generally cost between THB 50 – THB 100. Eating in a mall can take this cost up to THB 100 to THB 300 per meal.

Taking low cost to the extreme, if you home cook using local ingredients for the whole month, the meal cost per day can be around THB 120 per day according to Picodi.

Cost of living in Thailand_local market food

A scrumptious meal at a local market generally cost between THB 50 to THB 100.

Transportation

Main modes of transportation in Thailand include driving, public bus, sky/underground train, taxi and motorcycle.

BTS and MTR can cost between THB 40 – THB 60 per trip if you are going from the suburbs into the city center. If you are traveling 2 trips a day, the average cost would be around THB 80 – THB 120. 

Public buses are a more affordable traveling option. It can cost between THB 8 to THB 30 per trip, however we do not recommend this mode of transport to foreign visitors.

Taxi fare in Thailand starts at THB 35, then it will charge you by increment of THB 5 – THB 10 per km depending on the distance. A taxi ride from city center to Suvarnabhumi airport would cost around THB 200 to THB 400 (around 20 to 30 km). We would recommend taking Grab instead of taxi if you want a more transparent price and less likelihood of getting scammed. Read more about traveling safely in Thailand in our other article.

The cost of driving using a private car is more complicated, we will cover this in another aticle.

Other living expenditure in Thailand for short term stay

Accomodation

There is a great selection of hotels, hostels and Airbnbs in Thailand. The market is competitive, which means you can always find a good bargain whether you are looking for a budget or luxurious stay.

Hostels are suitable for a budget stay, and the accommodation can cost as little as THB 150 per night. You can also get a private hostel room for THB 500 to THB 800 per night.

The price range of a hotel room in Thailand is quite large. A decent 3-star hotel can cost around THB 500 – THB 600 per night, with a 4-star hotel costing up to THB 800 to THB 1,000 per night. Based on our experience, a 5-star hotel can cost anywhere between THB 1,000+ to THB 5,000+. There are also many boutique options for a 5-star hotel, beyond your big chain options. For example, we stayed at the Hansar Bangkok, a 5-star boutique which was amazing and did not cost much more compared to 4-star alternatives from large hotel chains.

Cost of living in Thailand_Hansar hotel

Photo from our last stay at Hansar Bangkok – the room was hip and came with some in-door greenery.

Mobile and internet package

It is hard to get by without the internet, especially if you are not used to the city. Surely you’ll need to access your Google map or your Grab app, right?  

You can get many tourist internet packages on pre-paid sim cards that typically cost around THB 150 to THB 600. The costs depend on your duration of stay (THB 150 for 4 days and THB 600 for 15 days). 

Other cost of living in Thailand for longer term stay

Are you looking to stay in Thailand for multiple months for extended vacation or remote working? If the answer is yes, there are a few costs that you should be aware of (and prepare to pay!)

Rent

There are a lot of apartment and condominium rental options. Your rental will greatly be depending on the location and the quality of the place you are looking to rent. 

Based on our experience, monthly rent for a 30-35 sqm, fully furnished apartment in Bangkok city center can be anywhere between THB 8,000 to THB 25,000. You can think of the city center as the area within a few BTS stops from business/shopping districts like Silom, Asoke, or Ratchada.

It is also possible to pay a much lower rent if you are not staying in Bangkok or staying in the suburb of Bangkok. However, you should also be aware of the lack of convenience and also lower English proficiency as you move away from the city center.

Cost of living in Thailand_condo rental

Our one bed room apartment is equipped with pool facility. It is located in the city center, and is within minutes of walk to a BTS station.

Utilities

The cost of electricity and water for 1 to 2 people should generally be between THB 1,000 to THB 2,000 per month. But this cost will definitely be higher if you have unique needs like bitcoin mining (electricity cost) or having a large garden/pool (water cost).

Mobile and internet packages

A good postpaid mobile plan can cost between THB 350 to THB 700 per month. Such a plan typically includes unlimited 4G data.

Home internet packages are generally affordable. Moreover, extra discounts are available if you sign-up through your apartment or use the same provider as your mobile phone. In general, this would cost around THB 300 to THB 800 per month.

Health insurance

Thailand offers one of the best healthcare services in Asia. In fact Thailand was ranked in the top 10 countries with the most efficient healthcare system in the world by Bloomberg in 2020.

While Thailand has quality healthcare to offer, the cost to access “premium” healthcare services in private hospitals can be costly. Therefore, you may need to consider getting health insurance during your stay in Thailand. 

On the topic of health insurance, the premium in Thailand can cost anywhere between THB 5,000 to THB 20,000+ per year.

How much is the cost of living in Thailand in each month?

The beauty of living in Thailand is that the cost of living in Thailand can be low or high depending on your lifestyle. The cost of living in Thailand can be very low if you are budget-conscious (but there are still plenty to enjoy). The country,  however, also offers an extra level of comfort and luxury for those who seek for them and are willing to pay for them.

In general, your monthly expenditure can range widely between THB 10,000 to THB 60,000 per person during the stay.

Go and read other posts that we have on the land of Smiles :)

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Thailand income tax_remote working

Thailand income tax for digital nomads and remote workers

Whether you are planning to live in Thailand or temporarily stay in the country as a digital nomad or remote worker, it is important to understand Thailand’s income tax system so that you do not get into trouble or get caught by surprise during your stay. 

As a continuation of our previous post on visa and tax, we will further examine if foreigners need to pay personal income tax, and if so how much?

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Do you need to pay for income tax when you work remotely in Thailand?

If you are a foreigner working in Thailand under a work permit, you are likely to have your tax ID already. This means you have to pay personal income tax (this is part of your work permit process). However, if you are a digital nomad or simply working remotely in Thailand, this is more complicated. 

First, the revenue department would categorize everyone into resident and non-resident. 

Residents are everyone in Thailand who spend a total of 180 days in Thailand within 1 calendar year.  For example, you are a resident if you spent January to March in Thailand, left then came back to stay from September to December. On the other hand, non-residents are everyone who spends less than 180 days in Thailand within 1 calendar year.

The law requires residents to pay personal income tax for income they earn in Thailand AND a portion of income from foreign sources they bring into Thailand. Whereas, non-residents only need to pay tax for income that they earned in Thailand.

In summary, digital nomads or remote workers, who spend less than 6 months in Thailand and work for employers overseas, will not need to pay tax. If you are looking to generate income from sources in Thailand, this may raise concerns on whether you have the necessary working permit. 

So, how much is income tax in Thailand?

Unless you are planning to take up a full-time position in Thailand, foreigners who are only paying for a portion of income brought into Thailand are likely going to pay less than 10% of that income as a tax.

Like many other countries, the formula to calculate taxable income is assessable income – deductions – allowance. 

Thailand follows a progressive tax rate for personal income, which ranges from 5 to 35% of taxable income (each bracket increases by 5%). 

In case you are not familiar with progressive tax calculation, we will give you an example with some numbers. Let’s say a person has THB 750,000 (~USD 24,000) of taxable income. This person would pay (150,000 * 0%) + (150,000 * 5%) + (200,000 * 10%) + (250,000 * 15%) = THB 65,000 (~USD 2,000).

Certain type of capital gain would also be counted as part of assessable income, hence it is also a good idea to understand how capital gains tax work in Thailand.

Thailand income tax_tax rate

Thailand income tax expense deduction and allowances

Thailand allows an expense deduction of 50% of total expenditure, capping at THB 100,000 for YA2020. You can claim these expenses using tax invoices from registered merchants. There is a limit of income deduction of 40%, but the government also capped this at THB 60,000. 

For allowances, the common ones that apply to most people are: 

  • Personal allowance: THB 30,000
  • Spouse allowance: THB 30,000
  • Child allowance: THB 15,000 each, up to 3 children
  • Child education allowance: THB 2,000 for each child

Other allowances that you can consider:

  • Life insurance premium: actual premium paid capped at THB 100,000 
  • Long term equity fund: actual investment amount capped at less than 15% of salary or THB 500,000
  • Mortgage interest: actual amount paid but capped at THB 100,000

There are tax calculators which would also help to take into account these various allowances – one example is this one from UOB. There are many tools online that can help you to understand how much income tax in Thailand that you need to pay.

New government initiatives in 2022

The Thai government has announced a plan to waive personal income tax for a few groups of foreigners in Thailand in February 2022.  While exact details are not out yet, the government has an intention to waive personal income tax for professionals who are looking to work remotely in Thailand. However, it is very likely that the waiver will only apply to income earned from work outside of the country.

So, do digital nomads need to worry about paying tax in Thailand?

If you want to stay in Thailand for an extended period of time (longer than 6 months) whether on an employment contract, remote working or as a digital nomad, you should think about the tax implications. 

Fortunately, foreigners may only be assessed on a portion of the income they bring into Thailand. With progressive tax and various deductions and allowances, you are likely going to be paying less than 10%.

Go check out other posts that we have on Thailand: 

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Digital nomad in Thailand_visa

Digital nomad in Thailand: understanding visa and tax

With a recent trend in remote working and digital nomad lifestyle, we have shared an article on Thailand as a digital nomad destination here. However, the big question remains: is it legal to work in Thailand without a proper work permit? And, what kind of tax implication do you need to look out for?

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Digital nomad in Thailand: understanding visa exemption and special tourist visa

Visiting Thailand is the easiest under visa exemption. Thailand visa exemption supports over 60 nationalities, visitors can stay up to 30 days (currently extended to 45 days). Longer stay up to 90 days is possible through the special tourist visa. 

How to apply for the special tourist visa? The standard application process requires document submission, purchasing of insurance, showing of proof of accommodation, etc. However, this may vary depending on your nationality. Hence, we recommend you to check with the Thai consulate/embassy in your city. Also, keep in mind that both visa exemption arrangement and the special tourist visa are meant for people who are entering for tourism and not work.

Are digital nomads allowed to work remotely in Thailand without a work permit?

Let’s just be upfront – this is still a grey area. While there are specific requirements such as being on a non-immigrant visa and obtaining a work permit to work IN Thailand – there is no specific law against foreigners who are conducting their normal overseas work while being in Thailand. 

For example, if you work for a company (or clients) in your home country, while sitting in Thailand – this is unlikely to cause any issue. You will start to raise concern with the authority once you start working with the Thai customers/clients. Therefore, in general, if you are planning to continue your current job while enjoying a short stay in Thailand, there should not be a problem. Best to keep your short stay under 6 months to minimize any tax implication. However, if you want to have a peace of mind and enjoy a longer stay, try to get your work permit or SMART visa (more in below section).

Digital nomad inThailand_remote working

What’s most important to have is a visa with a validity period that is long enough to sustain the stay duration. Many digital nomads are solving this problem by re-entering the country. This is not that convenient but can sustain their intended stay duration. This is what nomads do since there is no specific digital nomad visa yet.

Various government agencies have recognized the presence of digital nomads and their contribution to the economy. There have been many mentions of digital nomads in government communication and also news but without mentioning legal implications. Given the importance of digital nomads to Thailand’s economy, Thailand has taken the initiative to attract and legalize digital nomads with the introduction of the SMART visa.

Thailand SMART visa and remote workers

The government first introduced the SMART visa in 2018 with the purpose to attract skilled professionals and investors to Thailand. This SMART visa can provide up to 4 years of permission to stay and work in Thailand. 

Under this visa, you do not need to get a work permit before you can work in Thailand. However, the original purpose of the SMART visa was to mainly attract highly skilled professionals or executives. Because of this, the visa comes with a long list of requirements. As a result, less than 1,000 applications have been approved so far.

There is a proposed plan by Thailand’s board of investment to relax the requirements. The only thing pending is the Thai cabinet’s approval. With this proposal, the most exciting change we can expect is the change to the SMART T (Talent) type of the SMART visa. Currently this SMART T visa requires employers to apply on behalf of the employee. With the proposed change, individual remote workers can apply for this visa directly, as long as they have at least 6 months contract in their original country, earn at least THB 100,000 salary per month, and can prove that they have at least THB 600,000 of savings in the bank – according to the Chiang Mai Entrepreneurship Association

Digital nomad in Thailand_SMART visa

Income tax for foreigners working remotely in Thailand

A frequently asked question among nomads is: Do digital nomads need to pay tax while working in Thailand?

The Revenue Department categorizes potential tax payers into “resident” and “non-resident”. You are a resident if you have stayed in Thailand for more than 180 days per year. Any less than that you are considered a non-resident.

The law requires non-residents to pay tax for income that they earn from sources in Thailand. Whereas for residents, the law requires them to pay tax for income earned from sources in Thailand AND the portion of income from foreign sources that they bring into Thailand.

Referring to the above, if a digital nomad is working with an employer from their home country and has spent less than 6 months in Thailand, he/she does not need to pay taxes. On another note, once a digital nomad obtains a work or a SMART visa, he/she needs to file and pay tax in Thailand.

So do digital nomads in Thailand need visa and pay for tax?

Thailand is a great destination for digital nomads, and there are already a lot of digital nomads in Thailand. However, visa restriction remains as one of the main concerns. 

The country is not yet fully ready to allow digital nomads and remote workers to work in the country legally, however there has been a good development on this in recent years.  

Thailand has recognized the importance of remote working and is pushing initiatives around SMART visa to make it applicable for remote workers to apply as well. Hopefully, by the time coronavirus is over, remote working will become a new norm and Thailand would be ready to accommodate remote workers.

Other useful resources about Thailand

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